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    Restless legs syndrome

    Find out more about the treatments for restless legs syndrome (RLS), including making lifestyle changes, such as establishing a regular sleeping pattern, and medication.



    Restless legs syndrome

    Mild restless legs syndrome that isn't linked to an underlying health condition can be managed with just a few lifestyle changes.

    If symptoms are more severe, medication may be needed.

    Restless legs syndrome caused by an underlying health condition can often be cured by treating that condition.

    For example, iron deficiency anaemia can be treated by taking iron supplements.

    If it's associated with pregnancy, it usually disappears on its own within 4 weeks of the birth.

    Lifestyle changes

    A number of lifestyle changes may be enough to ease the symptoms of restless legs syndrome.

    These include:

    avoiding stimulants in the evening (such as caffeine, tobacco and alcohol)

    not smoking (read more about quitting smoking)

    regular daily exercise (but avoid exercising close to bedtime)

    good sleep habits (tips to beat insomnia include going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, not napping during the day, taking time to relax before going to bed, and avoiding caffeine close to bedtime)

    avoiding medicines that trigger the symptoms or make them worse (if you think medication is causing your symptoms, continue to take it and make an appointment to see your GP)

    During an episode of restless legs syndrome, the following measures may help relieve your symptoms:

    massaging your legs

    taking a hot bath in the evening

    applying a hot compress to your leg muscles

    doing activities that distract your mind, such as reading or watching television

    relaxation exercises, such as yoga or tai chi

    walking and stretching


    Dopamine agonists

    Dopamine agonists may be recommended if you're experiencing frequent symptoms of restless legs syndrome.

    They work by increasing dopamine levels, which are often low.

    Dopamine agonists that may be recommended include:

    ropinirole pramipexole

    rotigotine skin patch

    These medications can occasionally make you feel sleepy, so you should be cautious when driving or using tools or machinery after taking them.

    Other possible side effects can include nausea or vomiting and dizziness.

    Impulse control disorder (ICD) is a less common side effect sometimes associated with dopamine agonists.

    People with ICD are unable to resist the urge to do something harmful to themselves or others.

    For example, this could be an addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping or sex (hypersexuality).

    But the urges associated with ICD will subside once treatment with the dopamine agonist is stopped.


    A mild opiate-based painkiller, such as codeine, may be prescribed to relieve pain associated with restless legs syndrome.

    Gabapentin and pregabalin are also sometimes prescribed to help relieve painful symptoms of restless legs syndrome.

    Side effects of these medications include dizziness, tiredness and headaches.

    Medicines for aiding sleep

    If restless legs syndrome is badly disrupting your sleep, a short-term course of medicine may be recommended to help you sleep.

    These types of medicines are known as hypnotics, and include zopiclone and zolpidem.

    Hypnotics are usually only recommended for short-term use (typically no longer than a week).

    You may find you still feel sleepy or "hungover" the morning after taking your medicine.

    Page last reviewed: 23 March 2022

    Next review due: 23 March 2025

    Source : www.nhs.uk

    Restless Legs Syndrome Treatments & Medications

    WebMD provides an overview of treatments for restless legs syndrome, including medications and lifestyle solutions.

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    Source : www.webmd.com

    Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis

    Learn about restless legs syndrome (RLS), a sleep disorder that causes an intense, often irresistible urge to move your legs and even your arms or body.

    Restless Legs Syndrome

    Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also called Willis-Ekbom disease, is a disorder that cause a strong urge to move. It also causes sensations described as creeping, itching, pulling, crawling, tugging, throbbing, burning, or gnawing. RLS runs in families and is also associated with many conditions and diseases and medications.


    What is restless legs syndrome (RLS)?

    Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also called Willis-Ekbom disease, is a sleep disorder that causes an intense, often irresistible urge to move your legs (and even your arms or body). It occurs along with other sensations in your limbs described as pulling, creeping, tugging, throbbing, itching, aching, burning or crawling.

    These sensations usually occur when lying down in bed or when sitting for long periods of time, such as while driving or while at a theater. RLS typically occurs in the evening, making it difficult to fall asleep. Often times people with RLS want to walk around and shake their legs (or arms) to help relieve the uncomfortable sensations.

    Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

    Who gets restless legs syndrome (RLS)?

    People of any age, including children, can have RLS. Symptoms of RLS may begin in childhood or adulthood, but the chance of having the syndrome increases significantly with age. RLS is more common in women than in men. Up to 10 percent of the United States population has RLS.


    What causes restless legs syndrome (RLS)?

    Restless legs syndrome (RLS) has been found to be a genetic syndrome in some cases, meaning that parents with RLS can pass it down to their children. Up to 92% of patients with RLS have a first-degree relative with the disorder. These patients tend to develop symptoms earlier in life (before age 45) than those with RLS without the genetic link.

    In addition to the genetic source, many medical problems are closely associated with the development of RLS, including:

    Low levels of iron (iron deficiency).

    Uremia (a condition associated with worsening kidney function).

    Hypothyroidism. Depression. Fibromyalgia.

    Parkinson's disease.

    Kidney disease. Diabetes.

    Rheumatoid arthritis.

    Peripheral neuropathy.

    Pregnancy. Dialysis.

    Medications can also contribute to the development of RLS. Such known medications include antidepressants, allergy drugs and anti-nausea medications. Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can also make symptoms worse.

    What are the symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS)?

    Symptoms of restless legs syndrome include:

    Leg (or arm) discomfort: These uncomfortable limb sensations are often described by adults as creeping, itching, pulling, crawling, tugging, throbbing, burning, or gnawing. These sensations usually occur at bedtime but can occur at other times of limb inactivity.Urge to move legs (or arms): To relieve limb discomfort, you have an uncontrollable urge to move your limbs especially when resting, such as when sitting or lying down.Sleep disruption: Additional time is often needed to fall asleep because of the urge to move your limbs to relieve the discomfort. Sometimes staying asleep may also be difficult.Bedtime behavior problems: Because of the discomfort, you may need to get out of bed to stretch your limbs to relieve the discomfort.Daytime sleepiness: Problems with falling asleep and staying asleep may result in daytime sleepiness.Behavior and work performance problems: Again, due to sleep disruption, problems may emerge in daytime behavior (irritability, moodiness, difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity, etc) and work performance.


    How is restless legs syndrome (RLS) diagnosed?

    Unfortunately, there is no specific test for restless legs syndrome (RLS). The diagnosis is made based on your symptoms. A medical history, complete physical and neurological exam and blood tests may be conducted to rule out any other possible health problems associated with RLS. An overnight sleep study may be recommended to evaluate for other sleep disorders, especially obstructive sleep apnea.

    Your healthcare provider will ask about any family history of RLS. They will also ask if you have any sleep complaints, such as insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep) due to your symptoms. Your healthcare provider will also ask if you have trouble staying awake during the day and ask about other behavior or work performance problems.

    To confirm a diagnosis of RLS, you must meet the following five criteria:

    Have an urge or desire to move your legs (or arms), usually occurring together with uncomfortable sensations such as pulling, tugging, crawling, itching, aching, or burning.

    Also, the urge to move or uncomfortable sensations:

    Begin or worsen during periods of rest or inactivity.

    Are partially or totally relieved by activities such as stretching, walking or exercising the affected muscles.

    Are worse or occur solely in the evening or at night.

    Are not solely due to another medical or behavioral problem.


    Source : my.clevelandclinic.org

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